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Vermiculite: A Basic Idea

vermiculite gardening

The following article is a follow up of my previous articles on Soil-less growth media. You can check the rest of the media by clicking here. Though some times perlite and vermiculite are used as synonyms, they are very different in many aspects. Through I wanted to put some light on these.

Vermiculite is silicate material which is used in horticulture as growth media. It expands greatly when heated. The name originates from the word vermiculture which means to breed worms. It can hold potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Ammonium which are needed for plant growth. The color, composition, and pH of vermiculite varies from mine to mine. It is normally marketed in the form of brown cubes. It is generally clean, odorless and non toxic by nature.

Vermiculite is mined in the United State, Brazil, Zimbabwe, China and South Africa.

Vermiculite can retain more water than perlite. Its retention of water makes it good for sustaining the growth of seeds. It contains useful trace minerals. Its color is not as obvious as perlite. It is generally cheaper than perlite.

You can combine exfoliated vermiculite with peat moss or coconut coir and make a good soil-less growth media. This can be used in home as well as professional gardening uses. Vermiculite can be a good media for seed germination either used solely or with combination with other media. In case of vermiculite very little watering is required. Vermiculite does not rot or turn moldy. It help the roots of the young plants to anchor and grow.

Vermiculite can be used as a soil conditioner. Little mixing of vermiculite can make your heavy, sticky soil breath-ably light. It creates air channels and thus improves aeration.

Although not every time but in many cases vermiculite is found to be infested with asbestos which sometime related to asbestos related diseases, like mesothelioma (find more information at https://mesotheliomaexplained.com/compensation/asbestos-trust-funds/). It is also far heavier when compared with perlite so durability problem is always associated with it. At times it can trap too much water leaving the media as soupy soil.

Apart from Gardening, vermiculite are used as insulator world wide. Other usage are as a packaging material, substrate for incubation of eggs, waste treatments etc. In case you have any other points to add to what I have mentioned please mention in the below.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed the article.

Readers Comments (4)

  1. Can you recommend as to wherefrom buy perilite and vermiculite. I am based at Lucknow.

  2. Didn't mention that some vermiculite is high in lead.

  3. Isn't there a convenience store there that carries that sort of thing?

  4. From what you say, vermiculite could be a problem. How can contamination problems be avoided. I have been mixing good quality potting mix with coir and perlite for several years with pretty good success. I have to fertilize as the season progress and the plants use up whatever is in the potting mix.

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